Understanding transformation/paradigm shift in climate adaptation law through analysing knowledge construction

Date & time

1–3pm Wednesday 6 September 2017


Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law, 5 Fellows Road, The Australian National University


Paul Govind


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Ying Kang
PhD oral presentation
Paul Govind

Building a more effective system of climate law starts with questioning knowledge construction at its base. To provide effective adaptation solutions a modern iteration of climate law (especially conceived at the international level) needs to respond to the complexity of impacts that are characteristically contextual and localized in nature.

Transformation/paradigm shift is the formulation and presentation of alternatives. In terms of knowledge construction, this thesis maintains that the alternative is not represented through different sets of information but embracing that the notion that knowledge can be incomplete and formulating policy responses on that basis accordingly – ultimately, it’s about changing the basis of knowledge that underpins law away from the status quo. The inadequacy of the status quo is more acutely felt when we attempt to reduce global projections to the regional/local level which is the site of adaptation (and loss and damage) projects. The inadequacy of a brand of global climate law built upon a strategy of promoting mitigation to regulate impacts and promote adaption must be remedied by reviewing the knowledge construction

The epistemic basis of knowledge has been historically being accepted uncritically by climate law leaving an indelible influence in terms of the direction and parameters of climate change debate. Law has subscribed to understanding of climate knowledge that characterizes environmental change in a linear fashion. The thesis focuses upon the potential of adaptive management to generate change in the area/space of knowledge construction. This has triggered an investigation into the how knowledge is produced, what is deemed usable (including motivations, prejudice). Adaptive Management has identified the need to address uncertainty differently – but the issues have not previously been positioned and expressed in terms of knowledge.

Research theme: 

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